What is the Framework Hypothesis?

Question
What is the Framework Hypothesis?
Answer

The Framework Hypothesis (FH) was first proposed in the Netherlands in the early 1950's. It is a form of Old Earth Creationism (OEC). It asserts that Genesis 1-2 should not be read historically, but poetically. However, the normal order for a Hebrew narrative sentence is: Conjunction > Verb > Subject > Object. The order in poetic writing is: Subject > Verb > Object. So, Genesis according to its grammar is historical.

The central teaching to the FH is that Creation took place in, "Two Traid of Days." As the following chart reveals, FH understands the Days of Genesis 1 as topical parallelism, where the topics of Days 1-3 are parallel with those of Days 4-6:

Day
Formation of the World
(Items Created)
Day
Filling the World
(Items Created)
1
darkness, light
4
heavenly light-bearers
2
heavens, water
5
birds of the air, water animals
3
seas, land, vegetation
6
land animals, man, provision of food

As Meredith Kline wrote, "The successive members of the first triad of days [days 1-3] correspond to the successive days of the second [days 4-6]." [1] So, according to the FH, Days 1 and 4 are describing the same event; as are Days 2 and 5, and 3 and 6.

The student of Scripture will immediately observe some serious problems with FH's chart:

(1) It reveals that "water" wasn't made until the second Day, but Genesis 1:2 states it was made on the first Day; "... And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters."

(2) The heavenly-light bearers of the fourth Day (Gen. 1:14), were placed in the "heavens" of the second Day (Gen. 1:8). However, if the first Day and the fourth Day are the same event merely viewed from different perspectives, then how could the sun, moon, and stars of of the first and fourth Days, get hung in the "heavens" of the second Day, which didn't even exist yet?

(3) There is no topical arrangement as the FH asserts; each Day simply builds upon the previous Day. Water was made on the first Day (Gen. 1:2); but separated on the second Day (Gen. 1:6-7). Dry land appeared from the midst of the waters on the third Day (Gen. 1:9); and the plants of the third Day grew in the land (Gen. 1:11). On the fourth Day the sun, moon, and stars (Gen. 1:16) were placed in the firmament made on the second Day (Gen. 1:8). On the fifth Day the birds (Gen. 1:20) multiplied on the dry land made on the third Day (Gen. 1:9). Man was created on the sixth Day (Gen. 1:26-27), so he could have dominion over the Creation of the other the five Days (Gen. 1:28-31); including the beasts of the land (Gen. 1:24-25). The FH topical parallelism just doesn't fit the text. So, Genesis 1 presents a consecutive arrangement of Days, not a topical. See (4).

(4) A consecutive pattern is not only necessarily logically, but the Hebrew grammar also emphasizes this all-important fact. The Hebrew word waw may mean numerous things depending upon context (such as, "and," "but," "now," "then," etc.). What is called the "waw consecutive" is used throughout Genesis 1. In Hebrew, this means that there is sequence of events. Beginning in Genesis 1:3 we observe the Hebrew waw connected to an imperfect verb and observe the same phase, "And God said," over and over again (Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 14, 20, 24). So, these events were genuine, occurring one right after the other - literal history!

E.J Young states:

The question must be raised, "If a nonchronological view of the days be admitted, what is the purpose of mentioning six days?" For, once we reject the chronological sequence which Genesis gives, we are brought to the point where we can really say very little about the content of Genesis one. It is impossible to hold that there are two trios of days, each paralleling the other. Day four ... speaks of God's placing the light-bearers in the firmament. The firmament, however, had been made on the second day. If the fourth and the first days are two aspects of the same thing, then the second day also (which speaks of the firmament) must precede days one and four. If this procedure be allowed, with its wholesale disregard of grammar, why may we not be consistent and equate all four of these days with the first verse of Genesis? There is no defense against such a procedure, once we abandon the clear language of the text. In all seriousness it must be asked, Can we believe that the first chapter of Genesis intends to teach that day two preceded days one and four? To ask that question is to answer it. [2]

So, FH's "Two Traids of Days," is inconsistent with the inspiration, inerrancy, clarity, and authority of God's Word.

Another argument of the FH is the never-ending Sabbath of Genesis 2:1-3. Since God's Sabbath is a continuing Day (cf. Heb. 4:3-11), the FH asserts that Days 1-6 must be very long as well.

However, while it is an absolute fact that the word "Day" in Genesis 2:1-3 refers to God's continuing Sabbath, there are numerous problems with this FH interpretation:

(1) Gen. 2:1-3 doesn't include the defining phrase, "evening and morning" (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). Therefore, the same type of Day is not being described.

(2) If the Days of 1-6 are the same as Day 7, then the FH proves too much, as this means that God is still creating Days 1-6?

(3) Hebrews 3-4 refers to "rest" in numerous ways:

(a) The Rest of Canaan (Heb. 3:7-19): which neither the first generation of Israelites nor Moses himself entered into, but which is a type of the rest to come (Heb. 4:8).

(b) The Psalm 95 Rest: to which the author repeatedly refers: (i) "Today" (Heb. 3:7, 13, 15; 4:7; Psa. 95:7) and (ii) "swore ..." (Heb. 4:3; Psa. 95:11).

(c) Glorified Rest (Heb. 4:1-13): which is yet to 'fully' come (Heb. 4:7, 9); a final rest like God's. This is the eternal Sabbath rest, which will be a joyous labor of service and worship (Heb. 4:10). God delighted in his work (Gen. 1:31), which displays his glory (Psa. 19); in which he also delights (Isa. 48:11). So, God is resting in his work of Creation (Gen. 2:1-3) for his own glory and as an example of hope for his people.

(d) This said, the "rest" (Greek, katapausis) in Hebrews 3:18; 4:1, 3-6, 8 differs from the "rest" that remains for the people of God (Greek, sabbatismos), referring to the Sabbath rest (Gen. 2:1-3) and should be interpreted in light of Matthew 11:28-30. It is not something we can earn, but something that was earned for us through Christ alone.

(e) So, Hebrews 4:1-13 is being used as an analogy and not meant to be understood as a one-to-one correspondence to Genesis 2:1-3. In essence, the Sabbath Day is different than every other Day of Creation. See (1) above.

Some FH advocates parade around what is called the "Ordinary Providence Argument." Meredith Kline called this, "the decisive word against the traditional interpretation." [2] Kline and others claim, that Genesis 2:5-6 describes the third Day of Creation (Gen. 1:11-13). Therefore, according to FH, Genesis 2:5-6 teaches that the "bush of the field" and "plant of the field" were not in existence yet because there was no "ordinary" rain, or man to work the ground. The argument essentially goes, that before God created plants, he would have first created an environment capable to sustain plant growth. So, based upon this hypothesis, FH makes a gigantic leap and claims that God used "ordinary providence" to create "Days 1-6."

Restated another way, because "the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth" (Gen. 2:5), he was waiting on the "ordinary process" of rain (and a man to till the ground) and therefore, according to the FH, God was using "ordinary" miraculous means to create, not "extraordinary' miraculous means.

However, once again there are some problems with these presuppositions:

(1) God created the sun on the fourth Day (Gen. 1:14-19), but the plants on the third Day (Gen. 1:11-13). If God could sustain the plants without the sun (photosynthesis), couldn't he also sustain the plants without the rain too?

(2) Genesis 2:5-6 refers to sixth Day of Creation, not the third Day. Note, the mention of the "man" (Gen. 2:5, 7; cf. Gen. 1:26-31).

(3) In Genesis 2:5-6, the "bush of the field" (Hebrew, siah hassadeh) and "plant of the field" (Hebrew, eseb hassadeh) are not the same Hebrew terms for "grass" (Hebrew, deshe), the "plants yielding seed" (Hebrew, eseb mazria zera), and the "fruit trees bearing fruit" (Hebrew, ets pariy) of Genesis 1:11-12. Therefore, Genesis 2:5-6 isn't referring to third Day.

(4) God was not waiting for mere "ordinary" processes, but rather he was defining that his Creation of "man" (Gen. 1:26-31; Psa. 139:13-16) and giving of "rain" (Deut. 11:14; Job 5:10; 28:26; 38:28; Psa. 147:8; Matt. 5:45, et. al.) were "extraordinary" miraculous. God is sovereign. He created both man and rain. Creation is one of God's "extraordinary" miracles.

Though there are many other problems, what is discussed above is sufficient to understand that the FH (Framework Hypothesis) is not a biblical interpretation of Genesis 1-2.

The psalmist informs us of some interesting facts concerning Creation. He writes:

Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm (Psa. 33:8-9; cf. Psa. 148:5-6; Rev. 4:11).

When God spoke the world into existence during the Creation week, "it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm." There is no hint of a delay or a time lapse of 1000s, millions, or even billions of years. During Jesus' earthly ministry he did miracles. He spoke and they were done. If only those interpreting Genesis 1 believed the Word of God like the Centurion; "only say the word ..." (Matt. 8:8; Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24). The great I AM (Exod. 3:14) spake and "it was done."

Creation is "holy ground." It is God's "extraordinary miraculous work." We are to believe Creation as an act of faith. As the writer of Hebrews writes, "By faith we understand that the universe was formed by God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible" (Heb. 11:3).

The FH may be right about one thing; the earth may have an age that is older than 6,000-10,000 years old. But, it is a mature earth. We may deduce from Scripture that God created "a mature universe; one with age." One where Adam: (1) understood instruction (Gen. 2:16-17); (2) could speak - as he names the animals (Gen. 2:19-20); and (3) was old enough to understand both the need for and to be given a wife (Gen. 2:18, 21-24) - he even marveled with words at his wife's creation (Gen. 2:23). Adam was given instruction that he could eat of every tree of the Garden (Gen. 2:15-16) - except one (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil). So, Adam had the ability to reason. Also, the "trees" in the Garden were ALREADY producing fruit! They were created mature. God created a mature universe.

So, when Adam was created, he was a mature adult; fully able to walk, talk, and care for the Garden (Gen 2:15), etc. When God created fruit trees, they were already bearing fruit. In each case, what God created was functionally complete right from the start - able to fulfill the purpose for which it was created. God's evaluation of his own work was that his completed creation was "very good" (Gen. 1:31). God observing what he created in days - not just the sun, moon, stars, trees, vegetation, animals and man himself, etc. - but their function and harmony with each part fulfilling the purpose for which it was created - was "very good."

Verily, God created the universe - Ex-Nilho (Heb. 11:3) and in doing so he created all of its processes to work in harmony with one another. For, the universe to have functioned in such harmony from the beginning reveals that it had to be created with "true maturity" - not just with an appearance of age, but with already complete operating system(s) (complicated complete systems operating within other complicated complete systems, etc.). So, we can affirm God created "a mature universe, one with age." So, in essence the earth can be both young and old at the same time. Please see, "What is the Mature Universe Theory?," below.

For further study please see, "What About Hebrews 11:3?" below.

Footnotes

[1] Meredith G. Kline, "Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony," Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 48 (March 1996): 2.

[2] Edward J. Young, Studies in Genesis One, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1999), p. 99.

[3] Kline, "Because It Had Not Rained," Westminster Theological Journal 20 (1958):146-157.

Various Creation Positions

What is the Big Bang Theory?
What is the Day Age Theory?
What is Ex-Nihilo?
What is the Gap Theory?
What About Hebrews 11:3?
What is the Intelligent Design Theory?
What is the Mature Universe Theory?
What is Old Earth Creationism (OEC)?
What is Progressive Creationism?
What is Theistic Evolution?
What is Young Earth Creationism (YEC)?

Related Topics

What is the meaning of Day in Genesis 1?
Are there two different accounts of Creation?
What is BioLogos?
Did man eat meat before the Fall and the Flood?
A Universal or Regional Flood?
What about the evidence of Carbon-14 dating?
What About Dinosaurs?
Scientific Evidence for YEC?
How could there be evening and morning the first three days of Creation?
Extraterrestrials and the Bible?
Can a person be born an atheist?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).